Do Eye Masks and Sleep Masks Improve Sleep?
"Eye Mask Wearing During Sleep Improves Declarative Memory Consolidation and Increases Alertness During the Day in Healthy Young Adults"
Published in the journal Sleep, a new study demonstrably shows that wearing an eye mask can seriously improve our quality of sleep, and the benefits we derive from sleep.
The Eye Mask Study
The study aimed to investigate whether wearing an eye mask during sleep can improve memory consolidation and increase alertness the following day. The researchers recruited 59 healthy young adults (age range 18-35) and randomly assigned them to either a control group (no eye mask) or an experimental group (eye mask).
Before going to sleep, all participants completed a declarative memory task, which involved memorizing word pairs. They then slept in a sleep lab, with the experimental group wearing an eye mask. The next day, participants completed the same memory task and also reported their level of alertness.
The results showed that the experimental group, who wore the eye mask during sleep, performed better on the memory task the following day compared to the control group. Additionally, the experimental group reported feeling more alert and less sleepy during the day than the control group.
The research suggests that wearing an eye mask during sleep may improve memory consolidation by reducing exposure to external light sources, which can interfere with your REM cycles (which we've said for years here at S&G). They also propose that the eye mask may improve alertness by promoting better sleep quality, as the experimental group reported feeling more rested and less sleepy during the day.
Overall, the study provides preliminary evidence that wearing an eye mask during sleep may have beneficial effects on memory consolidation and alertness in healthy young adults. However, the study has some limitations, such as the small 59-person sample size (if you ask us, they should've had 69 people). Further research is needed to confirm and extend these findings.
Aside from the potential benefits of improving memory and increasing alertness, wearing a sleep mask may offer a range of other benefits as well. Here are a few:
Improved sleep quality: Sleep masks can help block out light, which can be especially helpful for people who sleep during the day or in bright areas. By reducing exposure to light, sleep masks may help promote deeper, more restful sleep.
Reduced eye strain: If you spend a lot of time looking at screens during the day, your eyes may benefit from a break from visual stimulation. Wearing a sleep mask can help reduce eye strain and give your eyes a chance to rest and recover.
Reduced headaches: For people who are prone to migraines or headaches, bright light can be a trigger. Wearing a sleep mask can help block out light and reduce the likelihood of headaches.
Improved mood: Getting enough quality sleep is essential for mental and emotional well-being. By improving sleep quality, wearing a sleep mask may also help improve mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
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